Author's Note: I haven't updated in far too long, I know. But hopefully this chapter makes up for it. It's jam-packed, and I really, really worked hard on perfecting it for you readers.
To be honest, I think the lack of reviews for the story (compared to how many there used to be) are sort of not inspiring me to update. It seems a lot of people have stopped reading and I'm really beginning to wonder if the writing quality is getting worse or something. So let me know what's up.
Anyway, to those of you that have been reading and reviewing, I want to say thanks so much. You guys have been leaving wonderful reviews, and telling me wonderful things and giving me amazing ideas and this chapter is truly for you.
Done ranting/raving. Heh. Enjoy.
Chapter Five: Happy Birthday, Darling
"Lucas," She hesitated from her spot beneath the covers. She couldn't help but feel the situation was a bit eerie. There he sat in just his boxers, at the edge of the bed, eyes focused straight forward at the wall. The room's only source of light was the dim brightness of early morning outside their drawn curtains that managed to filter in. "Come back to bed."
"I can't sleep." He shrugged, his voice void of emotion.
Brooke tugged the blankets off of her body, shivering at the sudden cold. On her knees, she crawled towards the edge of the bed where he sat, jaw clenched.
"Luke." She whispered, kissing his shoulder tenderly.
"I'm sorry. I don't - I don't know what's wrong with me." He turned his head to the side so that he could look her in the eyes.
"There's nothing wrong with you," She shook her head. "You just - you can't blame yourself anymore, Lucas. You did what you could to save her. You were the best you could've been."
He chuckled bitterly. "Did I? I mean, did I really go in there with the drive I would have if it had been you?"
"Yes! You went in there despite your Lieutenant's protests. Lucas, this has happened before. People have died and you've tried to save them and you always blame yourself. Please, Lucas. Please don't put yourself through this anymore."
He sighed, grabbing a hold of her hand. "Have I ever told you that you were the most amazing person I've ever met?"
"Not nearly as much as you should." She grinned a dimpled smile and he tugged her close, holding her to his chest.
He breathed, "Oh, I love you, Brooke Davis."
She giggled. "It's Brooke Davis-Scott, remember?"
"Lucas, out of the way!" Brooke shoved past him with stacks of various cutlery in her arms.
"Brooke, let me help." He reached towards her, but she slapped his hand away.
"Absolutely not! You're the birthday boy! Now, go sit down and," She wrinkled her nose, "read or something."
"Brooke.." He whined.
"Or," She turned to face him, sending him an icy glare. "I could just have Haley pick you up so that you can go shopping. She needs a new outfit for the party, and I'm sure she would love your help."
Lucas almost instantaneously began to sulk. "I'm going to go read."
"Nathan, you're doing it wrong!" Haley stomped her foot impatiently as she watched her boyfriend attempt to whip cream.
"Haley, I'm really not. I know what I'm doing."
Clearly he didn't. He was stirring the whipping cream, and not even fast. He was stirring it slowly and carefully, as though to protect it from spilling out of the large bowl encompassing it.
"You're supposed to whip it. You're stirring."
He paused, frowning. "What's the difference?"
Haley bumped him out of the way with such force he was nearly knocked over. He grunted and groaned as he watched her quickly whip the cream. In just a few minutes, it was already beginning to look like the stuff you'd find in a fancy restaurant. He watched in amazement.
"I thought I was doing that," He shrugged. "I guess you just have magic fingers."
She smiled at him, her hand never stopping. "I think you have pretty magical fingers."
Nathan grinned triumphantly, "So, er, exactly how much whipped cream are we making?"
Brooke struggled to look over the two, full shopping bags in her arms as she entered the elevator.
"Uh, er, would you mind pressing eight for me?" The other person in the elevator obliged, and Brooke felt her body lurch as the shaky elevator began its way up towards Nathan and Haley's apartment.
The other person turned out to be a teenage girl, probably around fifteen or sixteen. Her dark blonde hair was thrown up into a pony-tail and she was wearing a long t-shirt and leggings. From what Brooke could see, she was very pretty in a way that reminded her of models she had encountered before in her life. Delicate features, big eyes, pouty lips, and defined cheekbones.
"A lot of groceries there." The girl said.
"Yeah. It's my husband's birthday so I'm dropping this off at my brother-in-law's so his girlfriend can whip up some good food for his party."
God, the elevator was moving awfully slow. Not to mention these bags weren't getting any lighter.
"Sounds.. confusing." She remarked.
Brooke smiled and suddenly, realization sparked up in the other girl's eyes. "Hey. You're - you're Brooke Davis, aren't you?"
"Guilty as charged."
"This is going to sound stupid, but you're like, my favorite model. And I'm really looking forward to seeing your clothing line."
"Thanks. You may be the only one." She half-joked.
"No way. All the girls at my school are like, trying to figure out ways to pre-order and stuff. It's.. well, it's pretty pathetic but I mean, everyone just knows you're going to do really well."
The elevator doors opened, but Brooke didn't move. Suddenly the bags in her arms felt lighter.
"Seriously? God, I've been stressing insanely. I mean, the launch party is in a few days and everything and I don't even feel ready. What's your name?"
"That's a pretty name. Well, I - I better go. But it was really nice meeting you, Violet."
"You too. And good luck." The girl smiled, flashing beautiful teeth.
Brooke thanked her once more before leaving, stumbling towards the doorway of Nathan and Haley's apartment.
To be honest, she really liked theirs. Obviously not as much as hers and Lucas', but she definitely enjoyed being there. There was something comfortable and simple about their apartment. The furniture was nice and not over the top, and although the apartment consisted only of one bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen, a dining room, and a living room, she still found that she wouldn't mind living there.
Using the key she'd obtained from Haley months before, she carefully slid it into the door.
"Eggs in the bag, if you can hear me, please don't crack. I swear, we'll put you to good use." She winced as she pushed the door open, and then grinned. There was no sound of a crack whatsoever.
As she looked into the kitchen straight ahead of her however, her smile dropped.
"Naley!" She snapped.
The couple jumped apart. Nathan looked frightened as he turned his gaze from Brooke back over to his girlfriend. "Uh, which one of us is supposed to answer to that?"
"Hi Brooke." Haley forced a smile.
"You two are supposed to be cooking! We're on a schedule, and that definitely didn't look like you were cooking." She dropped her bags to ground, crossing her arms over her chest.
"We were too cooking!"
"Yeah, Hales, you may want to clean your nose. It's covered in whipped cream. You too, Nate. Oh, and take your hand out from underneath her shirt." The brunette instructed.
Nathan grumbled, pulling away from Haley completely. "Since when is she in charge?"
"Since you two can obviously not be left alone for a half hour while I go grocery shopping, I guess I'll just stay here and cook with you."
Both culprits groaned.
Lucas looked over the photograph of the young girl. Her name had been Naomi Luck. It pained him to look it over, but he just couldn't force himself not to. All he could think about as he saw it was her family; her poor mother screaming bloody murder as they attempted to revive her daughter; her father staring dumbstruck, wondering if it was him that could have done something to save her, thinking it should have been him to do something more.
He sighed, putting it down. Not knowing exactly what to do with his hands, he crossed them across his chest, staring straight forward.
Feeling arms slither around his shoulders, he jumped. A smile replaced his look of shock in milliseconds, and he looked down at his wife, who herself was grinning from ear to ear.
"Twenty-eight's going to be a great year. I can feel it."
He made a face. "Brooke, I'm twenty-seven."
Brooke pulled away, mentally calculating. She shook her head. "That doesn't make any-"
"I'm kidding, Silly. It was a joke. I make those sometimes."
She scoffed. "Nice try, Ryan. But you are so not funny."
"The OC. Duh."
"Brooke, can you stop referencing TV shows when you talk about me? I really hate having to research everything you call me." She grinned, throwing herself in his arms.
"You research what I call you? God, you're adorable. But seriously, nicknames are part of my charm. Just call me Sawyer and stick me on a deserted island, baby." She winked, kissing him quickly before scurrying away.
"Who the hell is Sawyer?" Lucas exclaimed after her.
Brooke pounded furiously on the door, tapping her foot impatiently as she did so. "Come on, Haley. Come on, Haley. Come on-"
"Brooke, hey." Haley looked a little less than surprised to see her best friend, and she tugged the door open easily.
"Sorry to bother you at this time, but I can't stay at home. Lucas is being a complete arrogant son-of-a-bitch." She removed her scarf and coat, neatly hanging them on the coat rack.
"You, um, got into a fight?" Offered Haley rather lamely.
"Yeah! And he - he .. And you don't seem to be the least bit surprised." Brooke crossed her arms over her chest suspiciously.
"Um, well.." She gestured behind Brooke to where Lucas and Nathan were seated on the couch. While Nathan looked amused, Lucas seemed to be triumphant. He'd gotten there first.
"Haley!" Brooke snapped. "What is he doing here? Are you seriously taking his side over mine?"
"Not at all! But Nathan's his brother, so.."
"Oh," The brunette turned away from her best friend, focusing her attention instead on the two brothers. Nathan winced. "Wow, Lucas. You have no one to come to except your brother. You're pathetic. Do you have no friends?"
Nathan couldn't help but stifle a laugh and Lucas glared. "You're one to talk. You had no where to go except my brother's house?"
"Um, that's totally different. Haley's my best friend!"
"If that's your excuse."
She groaned. "Ugh, I came here to get away from you. Haley, bedroom, please?"
The two girls wandered away and Nathan looked back over at Lucas. "Man, did you screw up or what?"
"Okay, don't make me drop this. Brooke will kill me." Haley advised strictly, holding the large cake up near her head.
Nathan held his hands up in the air as if to surrender. If there was one thing he wasn't going to do right now, it'd be mess with Brooke. She was on super hyperactive mode, freaking out at the first hint of anything going wrong. And right now, it seemed Nathan and Haley were doing everything wrong, so at this point it was better to just do as you were told and shut up while doing so.
"Can you open the door, Sweetie?"
"Uh, yeah." Careful to move around her, he pulled Whitey Durham's front door open. The party was to be held there for two reasons. One, Whitey offered. And two, he lived in a house as compared to an apartment, which would provide more of an easier space.
Looking down at Haley as he held the door open for her, he couldn't help but smile. Her hair was down and a curly mess down her back, her makeup had been lightly but perfectly applied, and she wore a simple dress; a thin black material that went just above her knees and cuffed around the middle of her shoulders. Her shoes were flat and white, allowing him to have many inches over her.
"What?" She made a face at him as he looked her over. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. You just look really beautiful is all."
Butterflies swarmed around her stomach, an effect she still managed to have after six years.
"Are you going to come in or what?" Haley peered inside the house. Whitey Durham wore his arms folded across his chest, along with a warm smile.
"Sorry," She apologized with a smile, entering. Nathan followed.
"He's in the shower.. Yeah, getting ready for the party.. Oh, Karen, of course!.. Yeah, I'll be sure to tell him you called.. Okay. Okay, bye." Brooke hung up and sighed, placing the phone back on the hook.
"I should not plan parties," She said to herself. "They really stress me out."
"Are you talking to yourself?" Brooke turned to find her husband standing before her in their bedroom. He wore nothing but a towel around his waist, and he was dripping from everywhere. Now, while she'd normally be mad that he was getting their white carpet wet, she couldn't help but think of something else as she looked him over.
"Uh, I was - yeah." She stood, walking towards him.
"You're crazy, Pretty Girl."
"See, I can make nicknames too." He kissed the tip of her nose.
She grinned, standing on tips of her toes to link her fingers around the back of his neck.
"We're going to be late. And I'm going to get your dress wet."
"I don't care."
They fell back onto the bed.
"I'm not sleeping with him right now. I can't." Brooke fumed, hands on her hips.
Haley groaned. "Brooke, we have one bedroom. There aren't any other options."
"Hey, maybe you guys could just go back to your own house." Nathan offered with a shrug.
Both parties of the engaged couple glared at him.
"Well, I'm not leaving." Brooke stated firmly.
"Neither am I." Countered Lucas.
"You're on my side!" Brooke re-traced the imaginary line over the blow-up mattress, eyes glinting.
"That's not fair! You have more than half."
"God, you are so ridiculous." He turned, facing the other way.
She did the same. "I'm ridiculous? I'm not the one who started the fight."
"I'm saying you're ridiculous about staying here right now. I was here first."
"Oh, you're mature."
"Like you're one to talk."
"You shut up."
The fight had started so stupidly. To be honest, Brooke couldn't even remember what exactly had started it. Had it been Lucas' lack of involvement in the wedding or the fact that he didn't like the centerpiece she'd finally decided on?
She couldn't help but laugh to herself. "What?" He snapped.
"I almost just said, 'No, you shut up.'"
He laughed himself and they were silent. After a few moments, he turned towards her. "Is it just me or are we both acting really immature?"
"We're lower than eight year olds." She said quietly.
Lucas sighed heavily. "I'm sorry. You can have whichever centerpiece you want."
So they had started arguing because of the centerpiece. It had merely escalated into the him-not-being-involved fiasco.
"No, I want you to like it too. It's your wedding as well you know." She shrugged.
"I should be more involved. I'm sorry." Lucas looked over at her.
"I'm sorry too. I know your job keeps you busier than mine."
"Not true. You're busy designing and planning a wedding and modeling."
Brooke smiled. "Well when you put it like that.."
They remained silent, before she began to laugh once more.
"I can believe us. I mean, we could easily be doing this back at our own place." She giggled.
"I know. I kind of love us." He said.
"Wanna go home?"
People had already begun to set up all the attractions Brooke had ordered in. For example, the actual caterers. Their cake alone compared to Nathan and Haley's pastries was extravagant. Not to mention the workers Brooke had ordered in for valet parking, the bar, and coat checking. She'd never been one for a simple barbeque.
Haley popped a tiny fruit tart she and Nathan had made in her mouth, and she mentally complimented herself on how orgasmic it tasted. She made the thumbs up sign to Nathan who smirked.
"Yeah, I bet the caterers' fruit tarts don't taste as good as that right there."
"Don't be jealous."
"I'm not." He so clearly was.
Whitey approached them, beers for all three in hand. "Seems like Brooke really outdid herself this year."
"Oh, this is nothing. Just feel lucky she didn't do a theme this year."
Whitey grinned. "Your sweets look good. I'd try one, but I shouldn't exactly be packing on the pounds right now."
Nathan shrugged. "I bet ours are less fattening than the caterers. Who knows what fancy, fatty ingredients they use."
The older man chuckled. "So, how long have you two been married?"
"Oh, uh.." Nathan started.
"We're not married." Haley said somewhat disappointedly.
"Oh," Whitey raised an eyebrow. "It just seems like you are, I guess. Sorry."
"It's fine." Haley glared up at Nathan.
"Okay," Brooke hopped up and down as she attempted to get her shoe on while holding Lucas' hand. "Just be cool. Have fun. Don't worry about anything today."
"Are you talking to me or yourself?"
She hit him playfully. "You. And me, a little. Ugh, we're late. I should have never let you talk me into that."
"Me? You initiated!"
"I did not." She kissed him, silencing him.
"Let's go. Twenty-eight awaits you."
The second Haley saw Brooke, she made a face. "Hey, that's not the dress you were going to wear."
Brooke and Lucas exchanged secret smiles.
"Well, how does it feel so far?" Lucas turned to see Skillz, holding a beer in one hand and a wrapped box in the other.
"The same as last year did." He shrugged.
"Yeah, I never really understood the big deal about birthdays." Skillz looked around at the party, filled with numerous fire-fighters, and other friends of Brooke and Lucas.
"Well, Brooke loves them."
"Obviously, Dawg. Have you looked around?"
Lucas smiled. "You gotta love her."
"Well, you certainly do."
He looked over to where stood with a few of her designer friends, laughing politely. Her dimples did not deceive her.
"Yeah," He said. "I do."
"Brooke," He swallowed hard, clasping her hands tightly in his. "All my life, I've been raised not to judge. And for most of my life, I didn't. When I met you, I was under the impression that love didn't exist, so I made myself judge you. That was a mistake. Because the second I knew you, I loved you. I know it sounds stupid. But literally the second I opened up my heart, you were inside of it.
"James Baldwin once said, Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up. Brooke, with you I've grown up. With you I have fought and batted, and with you I have loved beyond anyone else I've met before. I never thought I could properly explain that to you; I still don't really think I can.
"All I know is that I love you. You mean everything in the world to me, and if there is one thing I plan on doing for the rest of my life, it's taking care of you. I want to be with you and have kids with you and love you until the day I die. I'm going to protect you when you need protecting, and save you when you need saving, and love you until I can't love anymore. This is my vow to you."
Brooke smiled in order to attempt to stop her tears, failing miserably. Or rather, failing magnificently.
"Happy birthday to you…"
Lucas looked around at his family and friends. He'd lived a fortunate life for his first twenty-eight years, that was for sure.
"Happy birthday to you…"
His eyes landed on Brooke. She was snapping away with the camera, taking pictures of him with the largest grin on her face he'd seen. Her genuine happiness made him smile. It made him feel like he'd finally done something right. Like he'd finally really accomplished something.
"Happy birthday Dear Lucas.."
He gently tugged on her arm, pulling her down so she was sitting on his lap. He kissed her hair.
"I love you," He whispered silently and she laughed, leaning against him.
"Happy birthday to youuu.."
Everyone clapped, shouted, etcetera.
"Make a wish!" Haley shouted.
He closed his eyes. He'd been so fortunate. What more did he need?
"Lucas. Our life together so far has been one that I never imagined. I grew up thinking that love didn't exist. I grew up thinking that everything I wanted could never happen. I don't think I really did when I met you either. I just hoped we could have fun. But we've become so much more than that. You have become so much more than that.
"You've given me so much more than I ever though I could have," She broke down, tears falling from her eyes. "I mean, who would have thought that I of all people would be standing here, getting married, crying like Miss. America when she wins?
"I love you so much. You've taught me to be a better person than I've been before. I love your brooding, and the way you sing in the car with me, - completely off key, but the fact that you're not shy to sing around me is flattering - and I love how you're always trying to subtly get me to read more by "accidentally" leaving books on my dresser, or in my bag. I love how you notice every quirk of mine and you accept it so easily. I've never met a person like you before, and I'm glad.
"I'll be your wife today, Lucas Scott. And I'll be your lover and your best friend, and anything else you need me to be. I'll be better than you expect me to be, and I guarantee I'll make a few mistakes along the way, but I'll be the best I can be."
"What'd you wish for?" Brooke asked, once people began eating their cake and talking among themselves.
Lucas smiled, no longer under the impression that wishes were spoiled when told to others. "You."
"You already have me."
"I know. But you're all I want so I thought I might as well get it secured and everything."